Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children - Wisconsin

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Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 854.20

A legally adopted person ceases to be treated as a child of the person's birth parents for the purposes of intestate succession, except:

  • If the parent-child relationship between the child and one birth parent is replaced by adoption, but the relationship to the other birth parent is not replaced, then for all purposes the child continues to be treated as the child of the birth parent whose relationship was not replaced.
  • If a birth parent of a marital child dies and the other birth parent remarries and the child is adopted by the stepparent, the child is treated as the child of the deceased birth parent for purposes of intestate succession. However, it does not apply if the parental rights of the deceased birth parent had been terminated.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 854.20

A legally adopted person is treated as a birth child of the person's adoptive parents for purposes of intestate succession by, through, and from the adopted person. This only applies if one of the following apply:

  • The deceased person is the adoptive parent or adopted child.
  • The adopted person was a minor at the time of adoption.
  • The adoptive parent raised the adopted person in a parent-like relationship beginning on or before the child's 15th birthday and lasting for a substantial period or until adulthood.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 853.25; 854.21

If a will fails to provide for a child the testator adopted after execution of the will, the child is entitled to a share of the estate unless any of the following applies:

  • It appears from the will or from other evidence that the omission was intentional.
  • The testator provided for the omitted child by transfer outside the will with the intent that the transfer be in lieu of a testamentary provision.

If a will fails to provide for a child who was adopted after the execution of the will, and the testator had no child living when he or she executed the will, the omitted child receives a share in the estate equal in value to that which the child would have received under intestate succession. This paragraph does not apply if the will gave all or substantially all of the estate to the other parent of the omitted child and that other parent survives the testator and is entitled to take under the will.

If a will fails to provide for a child who was adopted after the execution of the will, the testator had one or more children living when he or she executed the will, and the will gave property to one or more of the then-living children, the omitted child is entitled to share in the testator's estate as follows:

  • The portion that the omitted child is entitled to share is limited to bequests made to the testator's then-living children under the will.
  • The omitted child is entitled to receive the share of estate that he or she would have received had the testator included all omitted after-born and after-adopted children with the children to whom bequests were made and had given an equal share of the estate to each child.

A gift of property to a class of persons described as 'issue,' 'children,' 'descendants,' 'heirs,' 'next of kin,' or the like includes a person adopted by a person whose birth child would be a member of the class.